The NFL Combine is notorious for the weird things that happen during the week in Indianapolis. One of those weird things is teams asking prospects psychological questions to get them thinking and see how they respond.
In the past, the Bengals have reportedly asked now Browns wide receiver Corey Coleman who America fought in a specific war, and asked Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson to remember an odd array of things and then repeat them at the end of the interview. The Bengals did something similar to what they did with Johnson with Washington wide receiver Josh Doctson and also asked him, if you’re standing at the northeast corner of a grass field at 4 p.m., which way is your shadow cast? That’s not your typical football question, but it requires a player to think a little bit harder. I’d admittedly be a bit alarmed if someone asked me that last one.
There’s also this from retired defensive end Austen Lane:
When a scout at the combine asked me "boxers or briefs". pic.twitter.com/6IwjeszYBD— Austen Lane (@A_Train_92) February 23, 2016
There haven’t been many big stories this week of that nature... until now. University of Texas at San Antonio defensive end Marcus Davenport says he was asked if he was a fruit, what fruit would he be. Here’s a transcript of him telling the story at the NFL Combine’s defensive linemen availability on Saturday afternoon.
Q: What’s the strangest thing you’ve been asked?
A: If I was a fruit what fruit would I be?
Q: What would you be?
A: I said an apple.
A: Hey, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. I have to be healthy.
Hey, that’s actually a pretty good answer. I bet whatever team asked it was pleased with Davenport’s response.
Back in 2013, Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin explained what’s going on when these types of questions are asked.
“If a player walks out of there feeling a little unprepared or challenged, then we accomplished our goal,” Tobin said. “What we’re not wanting is the player to tell us what he’s rehearsed with his people prior to the Combine. The core of our interview is having the player come in not prepared and react to it. That’s the core of what football is. How quickly can you think in unfamiliar circumstances? Football is thinking and reacting quickly and that’s what we try to put the player through when we’re interviewing him.”
And if you think players aren’t studying up to answer their combine questions, you’re wrong. In fact, an SB Nation colleague sat next to a prospect on the way to Indianapolis who was studying answers to questions he expected to be asked for the entire flight.
What Tobin explained back in 2013 and why teams ask these questions actually makes a whole lot of sense.